What will you get out of today’s lesson on VALUES
Today, we cover the single most important topic in the curriculum of Self-Awareness – Your VALUES!
- The #1 thing I want you to take away from today’s lesson is to develop a deep understanding for the benefits of knowing your values.
- With this lesson, you will also start your journey of identifying your core values.
Let the class begin!
Start with WHY
Most books and teaching materials begin with a definition of concepts and terms. But I believe in starting with ‘why’ (Thank you Simon Sinek for this golden nugget).
So, why care about your values?
Because values are the building blocks of your life’s satisfaction!
I know that is a big claim but by the end of today’s lesson, I hope to have you convinced.
A bit more on on the why of values:
- Know your values so you have a very strong sense of who you are and what you value in life.
- Know your values because they drive your behaviors and decisions.
- Know your values so it’s much easier to choose which path to take when you are at cross roads in life.
- Know your values so you know why you feel what you do. Often the answer to why you have been feeling crappy about yourself over a period of time lies in a conflict with your core value.
So WHAT are values
The dictionary definition is ‘the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.’ I know that isn’t particularly useful. To help you understand what values are, let’s look at them from a few different angles and consider some examples.
- What is most important to you?
- Who are you inside? What is the stuff you are made of? For instance, are you a person of integrity, honesty and fairness?
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- What do you want others to think of you? How do you want others to describe you? Do you want to be known as the person who has a zest for life or do you want to be known as someone who is a go giver?
- Who do you admire? Think about why you admire them. It is our natural inclination to admire people who possess the values, virtues, qualities we admire. Do you admire them for their hard work, determination and grit (that might have manifested itself in the form of wealth and success).
- Which of your accomplishments do you feel the most proud of?
Eliciting your values
There are frameworks and self-awareness exercises to help you identify your core values, not global values like peace or success, but YOUR definition of peace and success. Let’s look at one such framework – quite often, your highest values come from your strongest desire to fill a huge void or to move away from a pain in your life. A dear friend of mine grew up without a father. This was the biggest void in his life that nothing could fill until he became a father himself and dedicated himself to being the best, most present, most engaged father he could be! That childhood void made him value family and fatherhood above all else in his life.
Think about how this is true in your life.
- What was your most painful experience in life?
- What was the biggest void or vacuum in your life growing up?
- How has this void or painful experience influenced the decisions you have made?
- How has this pain or void influenced the actions you have taken or the actions you have NOT taken?
Do this next exercise when you can find 20 minutes away from the distractions of day to day life – and yes that means you have to put your smart phone aside!
Make a list of 5 things that you have been doing because you feel you ought to or should be doing but you constantly struggle to motivate yourself to do them.
This exercise will help you identify what are NOT your high priority values, but in fact your imposed values. Once you have made this list, think about why you have been pushing yourself to do them? Are they your parents’ values? Are they your partner’s values? Are they society’s values that you have imposed on yourself? Perhaps you value these things but not quite as much as you value some others. For instance, say have grown up in a spiritual home but at this point in your life you don’t feel excited about any spiritual practices you do.
This exercise was just a taster to help you prioritize your values in a hierarchy of most important to less. Fully eliciting your values and their relative priorities to you will take a bit more work and plenty more reflective exercises. We can’t cover them all today but if you would like me to share more exercises on eliciting your values , please post a comment. The objective of doing these exercises is to identify the common themes in your answers, these common themes will point to your core values. After considerable self-reflection, I have learnt that freedom and fulfillment are 2 of my most important values in life and business.
While we are on the subject of values hierarchy, it is important to understand that our values change over time, as we enter a new phase of life such as parenthood or as we grow older or wiser. I will also add a disclaimer you can’t expect all your values to be in alignment all the time. There are compromises to be made, as with anything else in life.
Key benefits of knowing your values hierarchy
So what benefits can you expect in your life if you took the time to know your core values and their relative priorities? This warrants a deep dive and another article but let me summarize a few key benefits:
- You will efficiently prioritize things in all areas of your life – your to do list, your bucket list, the projects you want to start, what you want to spend your energy and time on etc- because now you know not only what you value the most in life.
- You will find it easier to make confident decisions about choices you have in your career and your life.
- You will have more harmony because you will be in a position to let go of what is not important and focus on what is. This state of harmony or congruence with who you are, what you think, what you speak, what you do is the secret to life’s satisfaction. This is the bold claim I made at the start of this lesson. Still not convinced? Perhaps these powerful words from an incredibly wise man will do the trick.
”Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi